My vacation week in Italy was fantastic! I was able to see all the traditional tourists sites that I had hoped to see and then some. I had written about my currency exchange and my goal to have money available to me in multiple formats, and for the most part this worked out as I had planned. Unfortunately traveler’s cheques were less useful than I had hoped.
I had no expectation that local shops or stores would accept my traveler’s cheques, but when my hotel refused to exchange them, I was left holding a useless piece of paper. The only place I could find that would convert my cheques were local currency exchange facilities that charged roughly $62 dollars in fees.
Here is a break down of this terrible exchange. I converted $200 dollars in traveler’s cheques which yielded €109. The conversion rate at the time for dollars to euro was roughly 1 dollar = .79 euro. This would make the $200 worth €158.77, which means I paid €49.77 in fees. This is a horrific fee, had I been traveling through Europe with only traveler’s cheques, I would have nearly tripled my vacation cost.
What turned out to be the best exchange decision for me was to convert my funds in the U.S. and take Euro with me. I paid no fee at Bank of America to convert my cash, which was much more acceptable in comparison.
I found that withdrawing money from an ATM/Cash machine was also very easy and if done correctly only cost me a total of $7.69 in fees ($5 Bank of America fee & $2.69 transaction fee). Prior to leaving for Europe I discovered that BNL d’Italia was part of a Bank of America’s Global ATM Alliance and when I withdrew money from their ATM’s I paid no fee.
My suggestion, forget the Travelers Cheques and stick with cash and properly chosen ATM/Cash machines to fund your foreign vacations.